The pressing advantage

While bicycling on the erstwhile railway right-of-way this morning I encountered Ingrid whom I have known for more years than I can accurately recall, say at least 40 years.  I was her lawyer. Ingrid and I have been through many tribulations of mutual interest, primarily revolving around real estate and business transactions. In addition to my specific professional duties I made it a curiosity of mine to enquire after Ingrid’s son Nils whom I have known since he was a mere child.  Ingrid told me that Nils has lost his job and is living in her basement.  This is now not an uncommon situation among many families. Aside from the obvious distress for the both the parents and the child, they are missing the same palliative ingredient we all lack in the current pandemic; namely, hope and prosperity for the future.  Talk to anyone these days and apart from their initial report to being singularly bored, they haven’t any intelligence whatsoever regarding the future.  There are certainly no travel plans. Local clubs have shut down. Education facilities are altering to remote alternatives.  Restaurants and many retail shopping venues are suffering catastrophic challenges from which many of them will not survive. Many of us doubt the expediency of dining or socializing with others – whatever the proximity. The list of terminated employment is endless – and unfortunately now the norm. There is the very real possibility that the fabric of communication among businesses will be strictly electronic. Brooks Brothers is bankrupt.

Brooks Brothers is the oldest men’s clothier in the United States and is headquartered on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. Founded in 1818 as a family business, the privately owned company was owned by the Italian billionaire Claudio Del Vecchio. As a result of store closures and poor online sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company filed for bankruptcy in July 2020. In the beginning of August 2020, the retailer was purchased in a joint venture by Simon properties and Authentic Brand Group. The brand also produces clothing for women, and Zac Posen has been its creative director since June 2014.

Recalling as I do (or at least as best as I can) my own youthful adventures (not all of which were by any assessment unfailingly happy or successful) I have always preserved a heartfelt sympathy for young people who of necessity are required to endure the mercurial changes of society and decipher by experience alone their niche in society. For the most part there isn’t a lot any one of us can do to strengthen the youthful voyage upon the sometimes turbulent sea of growth and development. Nobody wants to hear, “Don’t worry, Be happy!” At the outset of the pandemic there were those who enjoyed the remote experimentation and not having to shower every morning. But understandably the condensed version of existence ultimately required an element of productivity.

It is no accident that now circulating among society is a common theme of charity and kindness. The assertion of the advantage is as often demonstrable as it is unusual – for example, blazing placards outside a grocery store honouring its “essential workers“. It is a reminder that we’re all in this together and that some gentleness is required while we resurface and reorganize. I can only assume that by the distillation of life and reduction of its imperatives to palpable stuff only, we have succeeded to identify what really matters.  In the meantime I cling as always to my belief that whatever the circumstances I shall somehow manage to adjust and realign. Nor was this always a guaranteed result – at least from the start. I recall in particular two instances in which nothing would have transpired – much less anything to my personal advantage – unless I had persisted as my own best manager. Unfortunately selling oneself is no different from selling anything else.  One must first isolate the need; then propose the resolution; all the while proving the value of the product.

In my case the ultimate solution was self-employment. I don’t for a minute propose that that vernacular is suitable to everyone – any more than everyone could cope with life in a small town such as Almonte. But its significance is that I eventually identified my imperative and then sought to fulfill what I considered my advantage. Much of my inertia was little more than fulfilling a lifetime ambition as a country lawyer – including the admittedly less than substantive features of interior decoration, sartorial necessity, strict observance of grammatical rules and social privilege.  I hasten to add that I was encouraged in this at times archaic preference by my first legal assistant Mrs. T who rigorously maintained her own commitment to propriety in all matters commercial. Parenthetically Mrs. T also once assisted me to recover from an arcane Masonic ritual which was part of my induction as Master of Mississippi Lodge No. 147.